ARE YOU READY TO TRAVEL IN A POST-COVID WORLD?
Adjustments being made by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)3,4:
- Reduced security lanes and social distancing in lines
- Personal protective gear for all TSA agents
- Plastic shielding installed at many travel document checking podiums, bag search, and drop off locations
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in checkpoint area
Additionally, passengers will be able to carry on one sanitizer container (up to 12 oz.) and can use a current driver license or state-issued ID that’s expired on or after March 1, 2020.3
Remember just a few months ago when we could travel freely? Pick a destination, buy a ticket, and be on our way? The only thing we had to steel ourselves for was potentially long security lines at the airport, but with TSA pre-approval or Global Entry, we could even get around that.
Even those pesky guidelines, like 3 oz. of liquid, shutting off cell phones at takeoff and landing (some of us do abide), and ditching our bottles of water before our full-body scan, didn’t deter our lust for overseas travel.
But in this age of COVID-19, what will our future travel procedures look like? For all the precautions we take to protect our health while abroad, will we be risking our health just by getting on a plane?
THE NEW FACE OF AIR TRAVEL
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “The risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in a shopping center or an office environment.”1 The CDC agrees, stating, “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.” 2
So what are airlines doing to help protect passengers? U.S. airlines are now implementing new safety protocols such as disinfecting planes, not booking to full capacity, and requiring all passengers to wear face masks during check-in, boarding, flight, and when deplaning. United Airlines is going a step further in the hopes of delivering“ an industry-leading standard of cleanliness” by partnering with Clorox and medical experts from Cleveland Clinic.5
One international airline, Korean Air, posted some measures they’ll be taking to help ensure the safety of their passengers, including disinfecting all aircraft, taking the temperature of all passengers, outfitting all cabin crews with personal protective gear, and making in-flight announcements if a passenger shows symptoms of COVID-19 during flights.6
This is great news, but despite all these safety procedures and guidelines, where are we going? To date, the State Department still has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for all international travel.7 Even if you made the personal choice to travel internationally, your destination options would be pretty limited as most countries have closed their borders to tourists.8
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
Are we stuck re-watching and pining over our old vacation videos? Or imagining ourselves immersed in the artificial reality of virtual travel tours? Absolutely not! The fact is, according to researchers, planning your next adventure can actually be good for your mental health and give you something to look forward to.9 Planning now for your next adventure will also help you be fully prepared and ready to go when international travel does resume. So what are you waiting for?
SOME TIPS FOR QUARANTINE TRAVEL PLANNING
Think about where you want to go, but don’t focus on when. No one can guarantee when travel will open up worldwide. Or, more importantly, when you’ll be comfortable traveling again.
Dive into the details. In addition to reading books and watching videos about desired destinations, learn more about the culture. Follow local chefs, artists, or other interesting locals on social media.
Decide what you want out of your next trip. Want to explore the site of ancient civilizations? Hike through the Andes? Deep dive off the Great Barrier Reef? Now’s your opportunity to take the time to decide what your next great adventure will be.
Window shop for travel online. Take this time to explore as many travel sites, traveler blogs, and tour offerings as possible. You may discover and fall in love with a destination you didn’t even know about.
Organize your research. There are a lot of tools that you can use to organize your trip, such as Google Docs, Pinterest boards, or as a family member does, create a color-coded spreadsheet (blue for lodging, pink for dining, yellow for tours/sightseeing).
The most important thing to remember is, while you may be physically sheltering in place now, and post-COVID travel may be different than before, the excitement of immersing yourself in a new and different culture will never diminish. So keep dreaming, start planning, and take advantage of this time to practice packing less than 50 lbs. in your suitcase!
Tour the World Virtually —
No Passport Required
As travelers, we know that nothing compares with the experience of immersing yourself in a foreign locale: the sights, the scents, the tastes. But right now, as we all focus on staying healthy and doing our parts to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we can still satisfy a bit of our wanderlust through virtual tours.
The beauty of virtual tours is that you can go anywhere in the world … from your couch. Visit three continents in a day. Learn about the culinary fare of different countries. Or “get lost” in the tranquility (and safety) of a walk through the Amazon.
Virtual tours can also help you with planning future travel. Not only can you get a preview of what awaits at different destinations, you can get travel tips and learn about hidden gems you may never have known about.
Watching the World’s “Quarantine Culture”
It’s a phenomenon that has grown out of the world’s isolation and response to the coronavirus pandemic. Different countries, different towns, even different cultures have found ways of coping and uniting, despite social distancing.
One of the most widespread and inspiring examples is the nightly round of applause by citizens for healthcare workers happening in many U.S. cities and around the world.
These often grassroot responses not only bring to life the creativity of a people, but also the essence of what is at the heart of their culture. Here’s a look around the world:
One of the first, and hardest hit, countries to deal with COVID-19. To help deal with quarantine, citizens have now started to sing opera from their balconies.
This German capital is famous for its nightlife, but its club scene has gone dark with social distancing. Now the government is helping to keep the party going at home with livestreamed DJ sets from 7 pm to midnight.
Easter camping is a popular activity during the holiday, but when all outings were cancelled, people were encouraged to set up camp in their backyards or in their living room while streaming live feeds from animal sanctuaries and zoos.
William Shakespeare is the pride of England, so it should be no surprise that two quarantined actors performed Romeo and Juliet from their balconies to help lift the spirits of their socially distanced neighbors, including doctors and nurses from a local hospital.
Staying healthy when you travel has a lot to do with the food and drink choices you make while away. So while travel is on hold, now may be a perfect time to get to know which foods and drink are safer choices, as recommended by the CDC.10 Ready to see how well you do? Take a look at the list below.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE!
Each box has one food or drink that’s the safer choice, and one that may not be as safe to order at local restaurants or markets. Choose which one you feel is the safer choice.